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Int J Behav Med. 1998;5(3):185-203.

Pain and stress in sickle cell disease: an analysis of daily pain records.

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Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270, USA.


This study examined daily reports of pain, medication use, health care use, and activity reduction in adults with sickle cell disease, and their association with stress. Participants were 53 adults with sickle cell disease. They completed the Daily Hassles questionnaire at the start of the study, and they kept daily records of pain and pain response over the following 14 days. On average, patients reported pain on 6.5 days of the 14-day study period. The average pain intensity rating during a painful episode was 4.4 on a 10-point scale. Pain was most often managed at home. Patients took medication (analgesics and/or narcotics) on 80% of the days they experienced pain, and they were more likely to use medication, particularly narcotics, as pain levels increased. At higher pain levels some patients also utilized a range of health care services. On average, patients also cut back considerably on household and social activities, especially when pain reached a level of over 5 on the 10-point scale. Those who were employed, however, were likely to continue to work, even when in pain. In addition, stress had significant positive associations with average pain intensity as well as reductions in household and social activities. Furthermore, stress predicted activity reductions even after controlling for pain intensity. Stress was unrelated to medication and health care use in this study.

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